Soylent Green as a Warning

Soylent Green is a 1973 film starring Charlton Heston and takes place in 2022, which is a dystopian nightmare. Greenhouse gasses have skyrocketed causing the environment to be unbearable – hot, humid, polluted – miserable all the time. Poverty and overpopulation has people starving piled up sleeping in doorways and the streets.

The lack of arable land has led to the only source of food being a high energy processed ocean plankton ration called Soylent Green produced by the Soylent Corporation. Now that the oceans are dying, the one last source of plankton based nutrition is threatened. The long and short of it is that the oceans are indeed dying threatening the source of Soylent Green such that – spoiler alert! – it will instead will be made of humans, the closest and most available protein source. What a great ending that was! “Soylent Green is people!” screams Heston.

At 90 degrees in mid-May in 2017, 2022 doesn’t seem so far off, and neither does this scenario no matter how exaggerated it may have seemed in 1966 when Harry Harrison wrote the book the movie is based on called “Make Room! Make Room!”.  Now, 50 years later, we are seeing the all too real life effects of too much CO2 in the atmosphere and the phrase “climate refugees” has already been used regarding China’s spreading deserts.

Like Fury Road where water is the source of conflict, the makers of that film made a point of mentioning if we do nothing, this will be our future. Again, it may seem far flung, but is it really? One’s priorities are put in perspective when one is faced with every day decisions.

I, for one, do not want to fight over water. Imagine it. Standing in line for water in the middle of Manhattan. Which would be ironic with the sea level rise scenarios we have seen. No more washing your dishes. No more long hot showers. No more flushing the toilet. Just thirst and discomfort and the threat of dehydration. What of those with medical conditions? The children and the elderly who can’t go without?

The answer is – don’t let it get that far. Be mindful of your consumption in advance of a dearth of resources and you won’t have a dearth of resources. It’s a simple equation that I think of every time I turn on the faucet or the air conditioning. Do more with less. You’ll barely notice the difference until it’s gone.


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